By Mark Keefe, American Rifleman
Notice there were quite a few revolver introductions this year? There’s a reason for that. When California passed a law in 2007 requiring microstamping on semi-automatic handguns, the technology was new and “not there” yet. Many, myself included, would argue it’s “not there” now, but that’s beside the point. Implementation of the law was held until May 17, 2013, when the state’s attorney general certified that microstamping was a go. Combine microstamping with California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act,” in which guns have to be certified as part of long and costly process of adding new, commercial handguns to a state-approved list, and you have a perfect storm that has resulted in no new semi-automatic pistol designs being offered in California. Virtually any minor part change results in a pistol needing to be re-certified, starting the process all over again. And all “new” semi-automatic pistols have to incorporate microstamping. Smith & Wesson and Ruger pulled the plug on trying to add new semi-automatic pistols to the list. Would anyone argue a new M&P is “less safe” than a Sigma from 10 years ago? I am unaware of any major manufacturer planning to embrace microstamping at this time.
California’s microstamping law, however, does not apply to revolvers. Following the flawed logic used to support its passage, revolvers were exempted from microstamping requirements because they do not automatically eject spent cases. The theory was that passing such a law would help “solve crimes” as spent cases ejected at crime scenes could be used to track criminals. Turns out, not so much.
Maryland has had a “ballistic fingerprinting” system on the books for years—in which a fired shell casing was collected and entered into a database by the state police on every new handgun sold. To the best of my knowledge, Maryland’s system has not independently result in the solving of a single crime. New York’s law has not fared much better. Millions of dollars have been spent without any real crime-solving benefit. Makes one wonder if solving crimes or registering gun owners is the point of such legislation.
What does all this mean? Thanks to California, an uncharacteristic number of new revolvers was introduced this year. It looks like California will become “The Revolver State.” I predict more revolver models (and perhaps even makers) are coming, and many will no doubt be heading for “Revolvifornia.” Anyone else remember eight-shot bowling pin guns of the 1990s? Seems they are making a comeback. Look for additional holes (meaning more than five or six) in cylinders to emerge. I doubt it will get to the ludicrousness of the Belgian pinfire from the National Firearms Museum pictured here. Just to be safe, though, don’t show this picture to anti-gun legislators or it might end up banned in the Golden State.